What is a ventriculoperitoneal shunt?
A ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VP shunt) is a device that is especially designed to relieve pressure on the brain in cases where there is too much fluid. A shunt is most commonly used to treat hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid collects in the brain, causing pressure and potentially leading to brain damage.
What are the symptoms of hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is caused by a buildup of fluid as a result of blockages. Some common symptoms include headaches, seizures, memory loss, poor coordination and problems with vision. It can be diagnosed with the use of MRI scans, which will allow your doctor to see which areas of the brain contain excess fluid.
How does the procedure work?
The VP shunt is inserted under general anesthesia and the procedure typically takes around ninety minutes. Your surgeon will make an incision behind the ear and drill a small hole into the skull through which a tube is inserted. This allows excess fluid to drain from the brain into other parts of the body where it can be reabsorbed. The procedure is very safe and effective, but it is necessary to stay in hospital for a few days after surgery so that the medical team can monitor your recovery.